PEET: Monography of the Bosminidae and Daphniidae
Derek Taylor Principal Investigator
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A grant has been awarded to Dr. Derek Taylor and Dr. William Piel at the State University of New York at Buffalo to study and train new scientists in the biology, classification, and evolution of two families of water fleas (daphniids and bosminids). Although water fleas are model organisms in ecology and toxicology, the biodiversity of these crustaceans is poorly known. Also, scientists are often unable to identify accurately the species under study because of poor literature and a shortage of living experts. To remedy this situation, the PI's aim to apply their expertise in water flea biology, morphology, DNA analysis, and bioinformatics to produce modern taxonomic studies of water fleas and train new experts. Hypotheses for understanding processes that affect species and genetic diversity, such as the transfer of genes among species by hybridization, will also be tested. <br/><br/>The PI's expect that an improved detailed biological framework for water fleas will have broad use in industry, education, government, and scientific research. These crustaceans are some of the most important subjects for freshwater toxicology and for understanding the environmental effects of human activities on lakes and wetlands. Indeed, filter-feeding water fleas are among the only known animals that can clear pollution-caused algal blooms in lakes. Moreover, water fleas are a critical part of freshwater ecosystems as most freshwater fish species and many bird species depend on water fleas as a significant source of food. In addition to the above goals, the PI's will produce a web site targeting high school students so as to cultivate interest in the biology of water fleas. Two graduate students will be trained in the systematics and taxonomy of these crustaceans. Finally, international collaborations will be fostered and at least one expert from an under-represented group will be trained.